Brazil’s Role in the Ukraine War and the Rise of Global South Diplomacy

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In an unexpected turn of events, Brazil, under the leadership of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has emerged as a key player in efforts to bring peace to the Ukraine war. This active involvement in a conflict seemingly distant from its own borders reflects a larger trend of “active nonalignment” among nations of the Global South. By refusing to take sides and focusing on their own interests, countries like Brazil are reshaping international diplomacy and challenging the dominance of traditional power blocs. This article explores Brazil’s diplomatic efforts, the concept of active nonalignment, and its implications for the evolving global landscape.

A New Era of Nonalignment:

Brazil’s engagement with various parties involved in the Ukraine war, including the United States, China, and Ukraine itself, highlights the nation’s commitment to active nonalignment. This approach, characterized by not aligning with any particular side in conflicts between great powers, has gained traction among developing nations of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Unlike the nonalignment of the past, active nonalignment leverages the increasing economic power of emerging nations to forge diplomatic initiatives and coalitions.

Navigating the Second Cold War:

The growing competition and brewing tension between the United States and China have propelled the rise of active nonalignment. Developing nations recognize the importance of maintaining positive relations with both global powers to foster economic development, trade, and investment. Active nonalignment should not be mistaken for neutrality; it involves making calculated choices on a case-by-case basis. Brazil, for example, may align with the United States on democracy and human rights, while leaning towards China on international trade matters.

The Case of Ukraine:

Brazil’s role in the Ukraine conflict exemplifies the active nonalignment approach. As a nonaligned country, Brazil refrains from supporting either Russia or NATO in the conflict. Brazil’s stance is shared by other key nations in the Global South, including India, which has resisted condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine despite its closer ties with the United States. The refusal to take sides reflects a broader division between the Global North and the Global South, challenging the narrative that the primary geopolitical divide lies between democracy and autocracy.

Implications and Challenges:

The rise of active nonalignment presents a challenge for traditional power structures. While the United States and Russia view the conflict in Ukraine through a binary lens, countries of the Global South are reluctant to turn a European war into a global confrontation. This unexpected response has caught Washington off guard and prompted Russia to strengthen its position through diplomatic outreach. Active nonalignment also relies on regional multilateralism and cooperation, as demonstrated by a recent South American diplomatic summit in Brasília called by President Lula.

Global South’s Disenchantment:

The revival of nonalignment in its active form is symptomatic of a broader discontent within the Global South towards the Liberal International Order established after World War II. Many developing nations perceive the current order as increasingly ineffective in addressing their needs, particularly regarding issues like international debt, food security, migration, and climate change. The call to uphold the “rules-based order” is seen by these nations as primarily serving the interests of the great powers, rather than promoting the global public good.


Brazil’s active involvement in the Ukraine war, as part of its active nonalignment policy, showcases the growing influence of the Global South in shaping international diplomacy. By refusing to take sides, developing nations are redefining the traditional power dynamics and challenging the dominance of established power blocs. As the world grapples with a new era of competition between global powers, active nonalignment offers an alternative approach that prioritizes national interests, economic development, and multilateral cooperation.

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